August 17, 2016

Chicken & Vegetables in Mustard Sauce

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Confession: Sometimes, I get in a cooking rut.

As much as I love to work in the kitchen, I go through these weeks where all I do its cook the same old recipes. There are 7-8 recipes that are my “favorites,” and I can happily rotate through them for a while before realizing that we have had some form of taco/burrito every week for the last 3 months. Anyone else do this?

Anyways, when this does happen, I try to sift through my stack of cooking magazines and try a few new recipes. I usually pull a few, and then show them to AR and we decide which ones to add to our menu. My favorite cooking magazines include Cooking Light, Cooks Illustrated, and Bon Appetite (let me know your favorites below so I can add them to my list).

The recipe below is adapted from a December 2015 recipe in Country Living magazine, and we loved the outcome. It uses chicken drumsticks, which isn’t a meat I normally buy, but it cooks up fast and creates great flavor. We used fresh parsley to brighten the flavor, but tarragon, thyme, or rosemary would be wonderful also!

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Chicken & Vegetables in mustard Sauce

adapted from Country Living Magazine

ingredients

  • 2 T. olive oil, divided
  • 2 t. salt, divided
  • 1 1/4 t. pepper, divided
  • 1 1/2 lbs small red potatoes, halved or diced into small pieces
  • 1/2 lb. large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 large chicken drumsticks (about 2 lbs)
  • 2/4 c. dry white wine (or broth)
  • 1/2 c, heavy cream
  • 1 T. flour
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 T. chopped fresh parsley
  1. Heat oven to 450* F. Toss 1 T olive oil, 1 t. salt, and 3/4 t. pepper with potatoes, and next 4 ingredients in a large roasting pan. Rub chicken with the remaining 1 T oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange on top of vegetables in pan. Pour wine into pan.
  2. Back at 450* for 45-50 minutes, or until chicken is done and golden. Remove chicken and keep warm. In a small bowl, stir together cream, flour, mustard, and fresh parsley until smooth. Add in drippings in pan, and pour over vegetables. Bake 5-8 minutes more, stirring once, until thickened.
  3. Serve chicken with vegetables and enjoy.
What is your go-to way to spice things up in the kitchen? 
Do you have a favorite cooking magazine?
June 14, 2016

Chicken Tortilla Soup

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Thank goodness for leftovers, y’all. I got back into town on Sunday night after being gone for five days. AR left for a trip on Thursday, which means our refrigerator is pretty bare. I made a quick stop for the essentials (avocados, bananas, and coffee. #priorities), but other than that, I’ve yet to meal plan or cook. When this happens, I usually fall on my old favorite: pb & jelly. Sadly, I don’t even have peanut butter in my refrigerator, so thats a no.

Thankfully, my sweet husband placed a container of Chicken Tortilla Soup in the freezer for me before we left town. I made this soup last Monday and it is a favorite meal in our house. I got the recipe from my aunt, who is one of the best cooks I know. She owns a catering company in Texas, and always manages to make the most amazing meals and desserts. If she has a recipe, it is a keeper.

We keep our toppings simple: Chips, avocado, olives, cheese, and sour cream. This batch required a LOT of sour cream because the jalapeno I used was ridiculously spicy. I had to add lime to try to tone down the spice, and even then, we were chugging water while we ate 😉

I’m sharing her recipe below and have indicated the few changes I make. Enjoy!

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4-5 thick carrots, sliced or chopped
  • 4-5 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 chopped jalepeno
  •  4 tablespoons butter (I use olive oil)
  • 4 chicken breasts (I like to use 3 pounds of chicken breast on the bone for flavor)
  • 1 (14 ½ oz.) can tomatoes
  •  1 can Ro-tel tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins (I never have this so I skip it!)
  • 3 tablespoons Tabasco (!!)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 ½ soups cans of water
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
Toppings (optional – pick your favorites)
  • Fried tortilla chips
  •  Chopped avocado
  •  Cheddar cheese, grated
  • Jack cheese, grated
  • Sour cream
  • Black olives
  • Cilantro
  • Jalepenos

1| In large dutch oven, sauté the first six ingredients (onion through butter/oil). Sauté until cooked through and carrots have softened.

2| Boil chicken breasts. Then chop and add chicken to the sautéed mixture and sauté it together.

3| Add remaining ingredients and cook on low for an hour or two. (My aunt says “I mix it together and put it in the crock pot for about four hours while we’re at church.”).

4| Put desired toppings into bowls, and ladle soup over the top. This melts the cheese and sour cream!

Note: You can vary the amounts of any of the ingredients. I like to put LOTS of carrots and celery and onion. I don’t like a lot of chicken. Also, I usually chop the chicken into tiny pieces so I don’t notice it! You can add several cans of tomatoes (diced, stewed, etc.). Add more cumin, if you like it.   It’s quite a flexible recipe!

May 24, 2016

Homemade Noodle Bowls

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On Friday night, I took my first try at homemade noodle bowls. I looked at several recipes (like this one from Bon Appetit and this one from Fork Knife Swoon), and decide to build my own. The results were fantastic: hot, spicy noodle bowls with tons of texture and flavor.

I ate mine like the picture above, but AR had chicken instead of tofu, and topped his with a soft egg and green onion. Use the recipe below as your base and build a bowl that suites your tastes!

Note: Don’t be overwhelmed by all the ingredients – its basically all soy sauce and Sriracha! This dish has several parts, but each are simple to put together. 


Homemade Ramen Noodle Bowls

Broth Ingredients 
  • 1 32 oz. (4 cups) container of broth, chicken or veggie
  • 1/2 yellow onion, rough chopped
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 c. shiitaki mushrooms, sliced in half (I remove the stems too, because they aren’t my favorite!)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, sliced (to taste – add whole or half of pepper depending on your personal spice level)
  • 1 T. sesame oil
  • 1 T. Sriracha chili paste
  • 2 T. soy sauce
Tofu/Chicken Ingredients 
  • 1 lb. of chicken or extra firm tofu
  • 1/4 c. corn starch
  • 1 T. sesame oil
  • 1 T. Sriracha chili paste
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1 T. honey
  • 2 T. rice vinegar (can use regular vinegar)
  • 2 T. olive oil
Other Ingredients 
  • 5 oz. ramen noodles, uncooked
  • 1 c. frozen edamame (shelled, not in pod)
  • carrots, sliced
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • 1 t. sesame oil
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • sliced green onions, optional
  • soft boiled egg, optional
To Make Broth

Heat olive oil in medium sauce pan, sauté onion until soft, 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and continue to sauté until caramelized. Slowly add in broth, deglazing pan and removing any bits on the bottom of the pan. Add in remaining broth ingredients. Cover and let simmer for at least 1 hour, and up to 3 hours. The longer this broth cooks, the more flavor you will have. 

When ready to serve, strain broth to remove all bits, reserving peppers and mushrooms to add to bowls.

To Make Chicken or Tofu

If using tofu: Press out liquid.* Cube tofu and gently coat in cornstarch. In medium caste-iron skillet, heat olive oil. Add cubed tofu, slowly brown each cube, placing on a plate with paper towels. In a medium bowl, whisk remaining sauce ingredients. Add browned tofu cubes to sauce and gently toss to coat.

If using chicken: Whisk sauce ingredients (sesame oil through vinegar), and add in cubed raw chicken. let chicken sit in marinate for 20-30 minutes. Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet. Add chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until browned and cooked through.

To Assemble

Drizzle carrots with olive oil, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Roast in oven at 350* for 20-25 minutes, or until soft.

After the broth, carrots, and chicken/tofu are complete, heat edamame according to packaged directions.** Drain and set aside

Cook noodles according to package directions – usually 3 minutes – and drain.

In each bowl, place noodles, chicken or tofu, and vegetables. Top with broth. Add additional Sriracha, sesame oil, or green onions to taste.

* Tofu has a lot of liquid that you need to remove in order to make your tofu crispy! I take the whole piece of tofu, wrap it in paper towel, and set in on a plate. I stack another 2-3 plates on top of it, and let the tofu sit for an hour or so until the liquid has seeped out. 

** For edamame, I just pour a little water over the frozen edamame and microwave if for 2 minutes, then drain.

May 18, 2016

3 ways to add more veggies & fruit to your day

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Eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the keys to health. We have all read that more produce is the answer, whether we are seeking brighter skin, clearer minds, or smaller waistlines. Yet finding ways to enjoy and incorporate enough vegetables can be a challenge. Am I the only one who feels that way?

Some days it is easy: I have a smoothie at breakfast, a salad at lunch, and stir-fry at dinner. Those days, I hit my goal of 7 servings of fruits and vegetables with ease.

But other days, it is 8pm, I haven’t had dinner, and I still need 3 or 4 more servings of vegetables. I am a huge believer in counting vegetable servings and not calories. It just seems when I am eating enough produce, I am making healthy choices all day and there is no need to monitor my calorie consumption.

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Below are some of my favorite ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my diet. What do you do to increase the amount of produce you eat?

|1.| I snack on veggies while I cook.

Yes, my mother taught me not to “spoil my dinner,” but sometimes I am starving. While I cook dinner (or even assemble lunch), I put a bowl of baby carrots, sliced cucumber, or bell pepper slices out. It gives me something to munch on while I cook, and helps me get a serving of vegetables in before my meal even starts. And lets be honest, if I spoil my dinner with sliced cucumber, has any harm really been done?

|2.| Pick a “veggies meal” each day.

I read Bethenny Frankel’s book years ago, and she explained that she counts the number of protein meals and carb meals she has each day. This keeps her from eating all carbs or all protein. I think a similar concept works with produce. Each day, I mentally check off which meal will be the one where I get most of my vegetables. Maybe it is the salad at lunch. Maybe a vegetable stew at dinner. Maybe a produce-filled smoothie at breakfast.

By mentally knowing where my produce is coming from, I can better enjoy the rest of my meals and avoid the 8pm crisis.

|3.| Make a bedtime smoothie.

Smoothies are often considered breakfast meals, but I love one before bed. I have a crazy sweet tooth, and about an hour after dinner, I start wanting chocolate. Blending a banana, spinach, cocoa powder, and almond milk makes a quick and easy treat before bed, and helps me enjoy a few more servings of fruits and vegetables.

How do you keep track of your servings of fruit and vegetables?